It was a particularly hard day in the middle of a particularly hard few weeks. Nothing was going the way I wanted it to. I had snoozed then alarm one too many times and missed the small sliver of free time in the morning that I could exercise before work. I had forgotten to charge and sync my laptop the night before. Attempting to eat healthy, I packed some watermelon in my lunch. Mind you the lid didn’t seal correctly on the container and even before I could start my car, I had a shirt soaked with watermelon juice.
Driving to my patient’s house, I was too annoyed to listen to anything. The state of the world is absolute chaos. Basic humanity has been shoved aside for hatred wrapped in a packet labeled politics. Common sense exists only in the imagination, it seems. I glanced in the rear view mirror – the eyes that looked back at me reflected sadness and fear. My stress levels have become like an active volcano.. unable to be contained, lava flowing uncontrollably. It’s no wonder all I seem to notice are grey hairs sprouting like angry weeds or small little lines on my face where once it was smooth.
That first visit wasn’t bad. It took a lot longer than I expected. I tried to chart in the house (part of my new plan of maximizing time) but, since I had a low battery and laptop not synced that was not an option. After I finished and en route to the next patient, I pulled over since my laptop could get a charge in the car and I actually had signal to hop on the VPN.
Most of my visits are quite rural and these were no exception. The area was alive in shades of green- from the leaves on the trees to the crunchy yellowish green of the weeds since the ground was pleading for a good rainfall. With the laptop up and the familiar clicking of the keys, charting had begun. As I was mindlessly blazing through a narrative, charting came to a screeching halt because try as I was, I could not recall a word I needed to find. This happens more often than I care to admit. Exasperated, my frustration and exhaustion converged and with a thunderclap, the emotional eruption emerged.
I started crying.
I cried for the word that I could not recall
I cried for all of the minor mishaps that made me feel like I was failing
I cried for all of the situations in my personal life that rendered me powerless
I cried for my ALS patient, who despite every attempt, was becoming riddled with pressure ulcers.
I cried for the patient plagued with cancer, who through tears of his own, told me his wife of 62 years was his reason for breathing.
I cried for the night crazy state of the world, riddled with virus but truly suffering from ignorance
I cried for the mom, who raised a son on her own, but wouldn’t be able to see him married because her time on this earth was dwindling
I cried for my fellow nurses, who exhausted and frustrated continue to show up day in and day out because giving up just doesn’t exist.
I cried for those whom staying home was not an option yet who cannot pay their bills with their paycheck.
I cried for the situations that I desperately wish I could change yet am powerless
I cried for the families that wished for 5 more minutes
I cried for my mom, who never got to see my son grow to be a high school graduate.
I cried because I often feel helpless and inadequate as a caregiver.
I cried because I so desperately wish I could be all that patients and families need me to be
I cried because I wished I could calm the racing of my mind.
I just cried.
When it all stopped and I could take a deep breath, I drove to my next visit.
And as I pulled into the driveway and my sweet patient’s wife came out to greet me, a smile crossed my face.
“Helen…. I am so happy to see you,” she sang out.
My heart was full of joy.
I just smiled.